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From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

July 29, 2008 at 9:36 AM EDT

To drop 10 per cent of their body weight and keep it off for two

years, obese and overweight women must exercise at least 55 minutes a

day, five days a week, according to a new study.

Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week said

that in addition to limiting calories, overweight and obese women must

exercise substantially more than was previously recommended.

"The less they exercised the less weight they lost and the less they

kept off," said John Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh, who led

the study. "It seemed like this magic number of 275 [minutes a week]

is what really made a difference."

Dr. Jakicic and his team spent two years studying 191 women between

the ages of 21 and 45 with a body mass index of 27 to 40, which is

above the threshold of healthy weight. Before taking part in the

research, all of the women exercised less than 20 minutes a day, fewer

than three days a week.

The women were prescribed diets of between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a

day, and were divided into groups with different exercise goals.

While women in various groups lost weight, only those who exercised

more than 55 minutes a day, five days a week, managed to keep the

weight off two years later.

"We really wanted to delve into the issues around how much you might

really need to do to keep this weight off long term," Dr. Jakicic

said. "This study sheds some clear light on what those numbers need to


Before this study, health professionals often recommended that people

exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days a week. But that level

is helpful only for those trying to maintain their health, Dr. Jakicic

said, and is not effective for those who have managed to lose a large

amount of weight and are trying to keep that weight off.

Obesity is a major issue in Canada, where 59 per cent of adults are

overweight, including 23 per cent who are obese, according to

Statistics Canada. Overweight is defined as having a BMI - an

approximation of body fat based on height and weight - of more than

25, while a BMI of more than 30 indicates obesity.

But much of the focus on obesity has centred on issues of diet and

ignored the impact of regular physical activity.

"There's been so much about the Atkins diet and the Zone diet and

surgery," Dr. Jakicic said. "But even people who have the surgery gain

weight again without a major lifestyle change."

Dr. Jakicic does not believe people should be discouraged by the

exercise level required by his findings, even though working out 55

minutes a day, five days a week, may sound like too punishing a regimen.

Most of the women who were successful in the study were working

mothers, he said, and got their exercise by walking. They were only

required to reach a moderate level of intensity with their workouts,

and few women put in serious hours at the gym.

"This shouldn't be discouraging. It can be done," he said. "They were

able to find ways to make it work with their lifestyle."

Keeping up the intense workout schedule was sometimes difficult, Dr.

Jakicic admitted, but because the women were focusing on both diet and

exercise, they were able to make up for any momentary lapses of will.

"Not that over two years these women didn't flounder," he said. "But

when they floundered with their diet, they were a little more diligent

with their exercise."

The women exercised in periods that would previously have been

designated as "sitting time," spent in front of a TV, a computer or a


"Most women say, 'I can't fit this into my lifestyle because it's

going to negatively impact my family and children,' " he said. "When

in fact what's negatively impacting the family is that they're not

taking care of themselves."

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Ditto, Kimra -

Although I have to admit I do have an extra 55 minutes a day, but they're already spoken for - I use them everynight when I get home from work. Yep, I sit at my computer and log on to the OCC forum and spend those 55 minutes reading all the new posts that were made since the night before. Do finger and eyeball exercises count?


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It is so important to some how find 1HOUR a day for exercise! No excuses.

the best way is to find a way to fit it into your schedule on a regular basis and to make it a PRIORITY!!

I started this about 14 years ago, when after I gave birth I always complained I was too tired, no time etc...every excuse in the book, but you know, somehow I always knew what was happening on TV, so clearly I had some time.

I bought a treadmill and started walking. My goal was to just walk through 1 half hour show, didn't matter how fast I went, I just had to move for the 30 minutes. Gradually I built and now I walk about 5 miles almost daily. It has gotten so that I feel lousy if I miss my exercise.

Find a way to DO THIS! You won't regret it!

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